News from the Education Committee

The Education Committee is happy to announce that New England Law | Boston is hosting the spring LLNE meeting. ABLL will co-host the event.  Kristin McCarthy and the staff at the New England Law | Boston Library have been organizing the event for the past few months.

The meeting will take place on Friday, April 14, 2023 at the MCLE Conference Center in Boston. The topic will be “A NextGen Curriculum for a NextGen Bar.”  As many of you know, the first administration of the new bar exam will be July of 2026. Because the new bar examination will be testing foundational skills along with doctrinal subjects, many of us view the new bar exam as an opportunity for greater attention to fundamental skills, but have concerns about how the exam will test these skills. How can we best prepare students, and what curriculum changes should be made to ensure our students are ready? 

We are fortunate to have a number of highly knowledgeable speakers and presenters on the NextGen bar and skills curriculum at this conference.  Marilyn Wellington, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer for the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) will be the keynote speaker.  Marilyn is leading the NCBE’s development of the Next Generation Bar Exam.

Associate Dean Hemanth Gundavaram from Northeastern University School of Law will also be speaking.  Associate Dean Gundavaram presented at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego on the NextGen Bar and was on the NCBE Content Scope Committee.  Associate Professor Dennis Prieto from Rutgers Law School was a panelist at the conference.  Associate Professor Prieto is the one reference librarian on the NCBE Content Scope Committee, and we are interested in his thoughts on testing research skills.

Additionally, Dean Lisa Freudenheim of New England Law | Boston will address meeting attendees from the viewpoint of an administrator guiding the entire educational program for a law school. Dean Freudenheim has a background in academic support, which gives her a unique perspective on teaching and law school pedagogy.

As always, there will be an LLNE Business Meeting at lunch, opportunities to see new products from vendors and, most importantly, a chance to catch up with colleagues and friends.

The MCLE office is conveniently located within walking distance of South Station and the Red Line.

Many law libraries and many law librarians in New England have helped plan and host these semiannual events over the years. We all know the incredible amount of time and effort that goes into planning the meeting. Thank you to Kristin McCarthy and New England Law | Boston for hosting. Thank you to everyone who has hosted and planned a conference in the past. The tradition continues. Have a great spring semester.  

Spring 2023 Welcome Message

Welcome to a new year! As we begin this time of renewal, I’ve been thinking about the direction in which LLNE is headed. The executive board recently held a strategic planning retreat, and many of you participated in a survey about where LLNE currently is and where we should go over the next five years. You identified several strengths we have, like our people, that we’re innovative, and our programming. You also identified some areas of weakness, which the board hopes to address through the goals we set at the retreat. Look for more on those as the strategic plan takes shape.

Speaking of programming, I’m looking forward to the spring meeting on the NextGen bar exam, hosted by New England Law Boston at MCLE on April 14th! I hope to see you there. The NextGen bar exam, with its new focus on legal research, is a real opportunity for LLNE and its membership to work together on what students and new attorneys need to know.

The future of LLNE is bright, and that’s because of all of you, the LLNE membership. As we consider the direction in which we need to move, I am grateful that all of you are part of this strong, innovative organization.

Anna Lawless-Collins, LLNE President

Anna Lawless-Collins
Associate Director for Systems & Collection Services
Boston University
Fineman & Pappas Law Libraries

Update from the Service Committee

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” – Herman Melville

The Service Committee has been busy connecting LLNE/ABLL members with opportunities to help others. For the Fall 2022 Service Project, we solicited monetary support for the Whaling Museum and we sponsored a book drive to support Wash & Read, an initiative of United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Women United, which distributes books to local laundromats. Donations to the Whaling Museum helped the museum provide free programming, such as AHA! NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. We had great participation in the book drive, with members donating 36 books. We received a lovely thank you card from Paula Montgomery, Women United Director.

Our next service opportunity is in conjunction with the upcoming Virtual Trivia Night in January. One reason that we are sponsoring Action For Boston Community Development is because LLNE/ABLL members can choose to support a specific program, such as fuel assistance, food pantries & programs, winter fund, or have their donation applied where it is most needed. More details to follow soon.

Looking ahead to the Spring Service Project, we want to focus on a service activity that members can participate in. John, Stephanie, and I would love to have some company on the Service Committee! If you have some ideas or just love helping others (and what librarian doesn’t?) consider joining our awesome committee.

Government Relations Committee Update

On September 30, 2022, President Biden issued an Executive Order providing for reestablishment of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH).  The Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will co-lead the reinstituted PCAH and will provide advice to the President on policy goals, charitable and private sector engagement and other matters to improve federal support and funding for library and museum services, the arts, and the humanities. “This joint initiative acknowledges the essential role of . . . library services in our society and democracy including civic life, economic opportunity and development, health and wellness, education, equity, climate, and social cohesion. In the spirit of the order, IMLS will be developing partnerships with other federal agencies to advance opportunities to utilize the arts, humanities, museums, and libraries to connect communities across the country with important information and resources.” More information can be found at: President Biden Issues Executive Order Reestablishing President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH); IMLS Director to Co-Lead Committee (Oct. 3, 2022)

The UELMA in Massachusetts Subcommittee continues to advocate for passage of this legislation, and thanks all Massachusetts LLNE members who reached out to their legislators this past year to request support H.1597 – An Act Relative to the Uniform Electronic Material Act.  At latest report, H.1597 accompanied a study order from the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, and was referred to the Committee on Joint Rules.  If you are interested in working with us on UELMA advocacy, please let us know.

There is little to report at this point in the legislative sessions of our New England states, and we are continuing to monitor developments of interest to concerned law librarians.  If you become aware of legislative or policy developments of interest to law librarians, please contact Catherine or Emilie, GRC Co-chairs, who monitor Massachusetts and Rhode Island respectively, or your GRC state representatives/committee members:  Mary Tartaglia in Connecticut; Maureen Quinlan in Maine; Sue Zago in New Hampshire; and Jane Woldow in Vermont.  We will report any relevant information to the membership. 

Regular updates from the GRC and discussion posts appear on the AALL Advocates community list (it’s easy to sign up for the list if you’re not already receiving the emails.  Just click on “Participate” at the top of the page, select “AALL Advocates” and click “Join”). 

Best,

Catherine Biondo and Emilie Benoit, LLNE GRC Co-Chairs

Ad Hoc Committee Seeks Volunteers

The LLNE Executive Board has approved the formation of an ad hoc committee to implement the ethical principles approved by the Board and LLNE. The committee’s charge is as follows:

LLNE has approved a Statement of Ethical Principles. Recognizing that principles need actionable tools to become more than an empty statement, this ad hoc committee is charged with developing ways to put LLNE’s ethical principles into practice. The committee shall determine the appropriate format for their work in coordination with the LLNE Executive Board. The committee shall consist of a chair, or co-chairs, and such additional members as the President shall delegate.

Would you like to volunteer for this committee? There are spots available for one or two more members. Please reach out to LLNE President, Anna Lawless-Collins.

Update from the Access to Justice Committee

Providing access to legal information is one of the main purposes of the Access to Justice Committee. LLNE Legal Link, which has been in existence for many years, recently received a complete review with updates ongoing. This presents an opportunity to think about what additional information may be useful for public libraries or members of the public.

Legal Link currently provides general information on legal materials and the ins and outs of legal reference. Each state also has a section that lists law libraries open to the public, information about free and low cost legal help, and legislative process information. Legal Link has also provided timely information, such as the Covid eviction protections for each state.

There are many possibilities for additional information that may help members of the public access information. One idea already presented to the committee is providing information about criminal record expungement for each state.  Do you have an idea for commonly-sought legal information that we could provide through Legal Link? Contact the chair of the Access to Justice committee at anne.rajotte@uconn.edu.

Featured LLNE Library: Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries

The Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries (TCLLs) are a network of 15 locations, one in each county, except for Suffolk and Dukes Counties.  The TCLLs have been helping the bench, bar, and public find the law for free since 1816.  We started as county law libraries, each operating independently, until the late 1970’s when we were brought together as a network under the umbrella of the Massachusetts Trial Court.  See https://www.mass.gov/doc/200-years-of-free-legal-information-from-county-law-libraries-to-massachusetts-trial-court-law/download for a thorough history of the libraries.  Our mighty staff is made up of 14 Head Law Librarians, 13 Law Library Assistants, 3 Circuit Law Librarians, an Electronic Resources Librarian, a Web Content Librarian, and our fearless Law Library Manager.  Because the TCLLs are spread across the Commonwealth, we are able to help patrons far and wide, and we provide access to our services in several different ways, including email, chat reference, by phone, by text, and in person.  Most recently, the Brockton Law Library started “Ask a Law Librarian” Zoom sessions on Thursday afternoons to help provide legal information to the public.  Last fiscal year, the TCLLs assisted an astounding 31,999 patrons.  Our web site features the highly popular Law About Pages, which are subject guides on about 200 different topics in the law.  Each specially-curated Law About Page includes relevant statutes, cases, web sources, forms, and print materials that our locations hold.  Last fiscal year, our Law About Pages received over 2.1 million unique page views.

Our locations offer exciting outreach programs for our communities.  The Berkshire Law Library, located in Pittsfield, holds an annual “Cinema of Law” film series, in partnership with the Berkshire Bar Association and the Berkshire Athenaeum, the first four Tuesdays in March every year.  See https://www.mass.gov/doc/2022-cinema-of-law-poster/download for last season’s line-up.  We reach out to our local bar associations with the latest news.  For example, in September 2021, the Hampshire and Franklin Law Libraries presented to the Bar Advocates in Hampshire County on navigating the Hampshire Law Library.  We’ve also collaborated with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, Social Law Library, and the Massachusetts Court Service Centers on a series of webinars to orient public librarians to our services so that they can better help their patrons who have legal questions.  See https://guides.mblc.state.ma.us/legal-reference to access these valuable programs.

Our 200+ years have infused our print collections and buildings with fascinating history.  For example, the Essex Law Library is housed in an old, 1806 Baptist Church that was picked up and moved 250 feet to its current location!  Check out this video to see part of the move: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PP_-Mvly2AI.  The Hampshire Law Library holds the most thorough historical collection of the Massachusetts Register within the TCLLs and is located on the first floor of the old, historic courthouse in Northampton.

To learn more about the TCLLs and the services we provide, please see our website https://www.mass.gov/orgs/trial-court-law-libraries.

TCLL staff at the Fall 2022 LLNE meeting from left to right: Gary Smith, Alexandra Bernson, Robert DeFabrizio, Louise Hoagland, Sara McMahon, Barbara Schneider

Featured LLNE Library: Roger Williams University School of Law

Location, location, location: The sheer beauty of the place stops first-time visitors to Roger Williams University (RWU) in their tracks. 

And it is striking. Comprising 143 acres of New England waterfront, the RWU main campus overlooks Mount Hope Bay in Bristol, Rhode Island.  Sparkling water and scenic coastline seem to lie in every direction. The towers of the historic Mount Hope Bridge loom in southerly views.

Like many buildings on campus, the RWU Law School features bay-facing rooms with expansive windows that take full advantage of spectacular views.  Ample recreation areas and walking paths provide students, faculty and staff with plentiful opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Our great law library staff is no exception, and on most days, you will find many of us walking, running, or swimming over our lunch hour. From the law and campus libraries to the wraparound deck of the Sailing and Education Center (photo), there are also plenty of quiet places to study and relax.

Of course, for law librarians, our favorite spot is the law library. Providing a year-round retreat from campus bustle and all weather, the library is designed to afford open, comfortable, and multi-functional spaces to meet student needs for study, work, and research. As the library adjusts its collection to an ever-increasing inventory of digital materials, planned renovations in coming years will see some shelving spaces converted to even more practical nooks for student use.

RWU Law is the only law school in Rhode Island. Bearing the responsibility of that distinction, the law library maintains a unique collection of current and historical materials related to Rhode Island’s state and federal jurisdictions.  The library also possesses a select collection of current and historical materials on other New England states, as well as key legal resources from farther afield.

Naturally befitting our coastal location, the law library collects heavily in maritime law. This collection supports the Marine Affairs Institute at RWU Law, a partnership with the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island Sea Grant.  The Marine Affairs Institute is home to the Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program, which prepares law students with academic training and practical experience to work in ocean and coastal law and policy.

With its bay-view perch, RWU’s location is intertwined with its academic programs, strategic priorities, and campus life.  With thoughtful interior spaces that complement outdoor natural beauty, RWU affords its community a healthy and supportive environment in which to thrive.